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More and more B2B companies are investing in commerce portals, where they can offer a personalised shopping experience by using digital aids and customer information. However, some companies receive orders by phone and email and close new deals with the help of salespeople in the field.

Are you one of them? In that case, it may be worth considering a B2B commerce portal to meet new customer requirements and take advantage of several sales opportunities.

The new buying process places new demands

In the traditional B2B buying process, you always had contact with a salesperson. As a customer, when you had a business need, you looked for a seller to be informed about the different options available on the market before making your purchase decision.

"Today, more than 50% of the buying process is already done before a customer contacts a seller" – Forrester.

The buyer has first obtained information digitally. When the buyer feels ready, he contacts a seller. This change in buying behaviour places greater demands on the product information that’s available digitally.

3 pitfalls of not having a B2B commerce portal

shutterstock_1441938647Today, more and more B2B buyers expect to shop from anywhere and anytime. So, it’s easy to miss an opportunity to sell if you don’t have your current product information available around the clock. The three most common pitfalls are:

  • You’re not available and miss the order when the customer wants to place one
  • The customer becomes apprehensive about ordering when the product availability, price and delivery time aren’t made available or updated
  • Geographical restrictions and specific opening hours prevent the customer from shopping from where and when they want, and this uncertainty reduces sales

Millennials make new demands

Without a B2B commerce portal, you’ll miss large parts of the buying process. This is because buyer’s behaviour has changed. Today, it’s primarily millennials – born between 1980–2001 – who have great purchasing power in B2B. Surveys show that millennials are here now, and will affect your business if you’re not prepared.

Here are a few trends identified from those surveys:

  • 73% of millennials are involved in purchasing products or services for their business
  • With a younger and more digital generation, the purchase price also becomes more digital, and purchasing decisions are more independent
  • Millennials first want to find out the information themselves and contact sellers much later during the purchase than previous generations
  • Millennials rely on independent experts, social media networks and industry colleagues. So, if you want to win their trust, invest in credibility, openness and empathy
  • Millennials wish to work with apps and portals and act independently
  • Millennials have grown up in a rapidly changing world with new technology constantly at hand. This has redrawn the map for what expectations and priorities we have for the world around us
  • Millennials expect a first-class experience with intuitive, digital self-service options

Some figures that give perspective on millennials’ views on the B2B market:

  • 76% of buyers feel significantly more comfortable as decision-makers compared to five years ago
  • 83% of buyers report that technology keeps them more informed about product choices than ever before
  • Almost 60% of buyers say they will probably switch brands if their current one does not offer a user-friendly mobile experience
  • 79% of buyers indicate that salespeople must act as ‘reliable advisors,’ a role that can only be realised through the use of intelligent, digital e-commerce technologies

Generational change can be challenging, but it also provides ways to find new business opportunities and increase business growth. If you want to maximise the business effects and secure your business’ future, you must listen to the needs of the younger generation. This applies to both your own business and that of your customers. Let the millennials guide you in the digital journey of change.

B2B commerce portals are needed but require a change

Back to the question: Is it worth investing in a B2B commerce portal to meet future buyers’ demands? The answer is – of course – yes!

But first and foremost, you must decide when it’s the right time for your business to begin your change journey. The next step will then be to prepare your organisation well in advance for the change journey. Skipping this important stage will mean your team won’t understand what the change means and how it will affect your organisation.

You can read more about how to prepare your team for change by clicking here.

Where you start and how you proceed depends on several factors, such as your business model, customer needs and existing digital infrastructure. We’re happy to help you find the right way to secure your business’ future with a B2B commerce portal.

Learn more about customer portals in our webinar series, which you can watch by clicking on the button below.Sign up here

 

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